INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
WICKLOW COUNTY COUNCIL
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY AUGUSTUS CULLEN & SON, SOLICITORS)
Chairman: Mr McGrath
Employer Member: Mr Brennan
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Appeal against the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation No. BC157/96.
2. The worker was employed as a retained fire-fighter on Wicklow fire brigade with effect from 11th May, 1987. On 21st February, 1995, the chief fire officer wrote to the worker indicating that as he was no longer working in Wicklow town he could no longer be considered available for firefighting duties on Wicklow fire brigade and that his employment was to be terminated with effect from 31st March, 1995.
The worker claims that he was unable to find employment in Wicklow town and was now working in Newbridge, Co. Kildare. He informed the chief fire officer, however, that he would be available for firefighting duty for 14 hours per day during the week and 24 hours per day during week-ends. The worker took a 6 month leave of absence from firefighting duties between March and August, 1995. He continued working in Newbridge after August 1995, stating that he was still available for duty for the hours already mentioned.
The Council's view was that a situation where a fire-fighter was not available for 24 hours per day was unacceptable. The Council wrote to the worker on 11th December, 1995, advising him of his suspension from duties as a retained firefighter.
The worker referred his case to a Rights Commissioner and a hearing took place on 19th July, 1996. The Rights Commissioner's recommendation is as follows:-
I recommend that the Council letter of 11th December, 1995 is withdrawn and that the worker is considered to be on lay-off (with continuity preserved) until May, 1997 when the situation may be reviewed.
The Council appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court on 28th August, 1996, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 11th March, 1997, in Wicklow.
3. 1. The worker has a good record as a fire-fighter with the Council. His only problem has been availability because of his job in Newbridge. He had to work there because of lack of work in Wicklow town. He responded to a high number of calls made to him and always took his "bleeper" with him. At present he is an unemployed carpenter living in Wicklow town. He is available at all times and would like to be retained as a fire-fighter. Should be become employed in the future outside of Wicklow town he would resign from his position of fire-fighter,
4. 1. The worker was recruited on the basis of 24-hour availability as a fire-fighter. His annual retainer was paid on this basis. He would not have been employed had he been living or working outside of Wicklow town as it is necessary to respond within 5/6 minutes to fire brigade call-outs. The Council cannot condone a situation where some fire-fighters are available 100% of the time and others available part-time. The Council has been helpful to the worker at all times, including granting him a 6-month career break in 1995.
The Court considered all of the issues raised by the parties in their submissions. The Court discussed with the parties a possible basis for a resolution to the dispute.
In the light of the consideration of the issues raised and the discussions between the parties, the Court makes the following decision on the appeal:-
1. That the claimant be considered to have been on lay-off (with continuity preserved).
2. That he be employed as a retained fire-fighter on the Wicklow Fire Brigade with immediate effect, subject to his fulfilling the following conditions:-
- (a) That he will make himself available as necessary for firefighting duties.
(b) That, in the event that he works outside of Wicklow town, he will resign from the fire brigade, and that he will give the Council a written undertaking to this effect.
This is the decision of the Court.
With regard to (b) above the claimant, through his representative, indicated he was prepared to give this undertaking.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
24th March, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.